Heatwave: Southeastern Europe and the Middle East are already suffocating

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From Greece to Israel, via Cyprus and Turkey, the countries of south-eastern Europe and the Near East are suffocating, due to an early heat wave which populations still subject to containment measures.

Over 40 degrees in Cyprus, Crete (Greece), on Turkish shores, and up to 47 degrees on the borders of Israel and Jordan: if this region of the world is used to scorching summers, records have been broken for a month of May, according to the national meteorological institutes.

After southern Italy, with 39 degrees in Sicily at the end of last week, this heat wave reached Heraklion, in Crete, with 41.1 degrees Saturday, unheard of in half a century, according to the meteorological institute of Athens.

In mainland Greece, mercury also approached 40 degrees.

Towards the beach? Not always, depending on the state of containment measures related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Greece, the opening of the equipped beaches was anticipated due to the heat wave, and the measures put in place: four meters between the parasols in particular, no table drink services …

Further to the east, in Cyprus, where beaches remain prohibited – only sea bathing is allowed -, 49 people were fined on Sunday for prolonged presence on the fine sand.

On the island, a new record was set on Sunday, with 42.5 degrees in the shade in Paphos (southwest). A weather alert remains in effect on Monday.

Turkey has had its hottest weekend in May in 75 years, according to public television TRT – it was more than 40 degrees in Antalya.

Tens of millions of Turks are under strict confinement these days, with the exception of the over 65s, who were able to go out on Sunday according to reorganized schedules due to the heat. In Istanbul, some took the opportunity to cool off in the waters of the Bosphorus.

In the Near East, heat is regularly invited in late spring. But, “this year, the difference is the duration of the episode – one week -, with temperatures up to 37 degrees,” said Sunday the head of the meteorology department of Beirut airport, Abdel Rahmane al-Zawawi.

A septuagenarian raises his arms to the sky after a swim in the Bosphorus, May 17, 2020 in Istanbul (AFP – Bulent Kilic)

And there, no sea bathing possible for the Lebanese: all the beaches are closed, and the security forces took care on Sunday to enforce the instructions.

The beaches are also theoretically out of reach of bathers in Israel. On Sunday, when the government was finally gaining the confidence of parliament after more than a year of political crisis, the authorities however seemed to look away from the crowded coastline of Tel Aviv, where it was also 40 degrees.

This heatwave must continue until the weekend in the eastern Mediterranean.

burs-cc-gk / all

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